Do you know that an author doesn’t need to have her story illustrated before she sends it to a publisher? I find that most people don’t know that. If you’ve written something and you think it would make a good children’s book, but you don’t know what to do next, here’s a website that might give you the info you need.
thoughts for february 2007
It should arrive at the publisher’s slushpile in a couple of days. And then I’ll have to wait anywhere from two to six months before I hear anything back from any of them due to the amount of manuscripts they get. I don’t want to talk too much about it, but I’ll give you a peek.
I had a request from an art director of a children’s book publishing house to draw character studies so she could see if I could keep a character looking the same from image to image. She suggested I draw animals.
I just got “buzzed” by the delivery man. A book just arrived that was illustrated by Greg Clarke called Dogs A-Z Address Book. Each letter entry is accompanied by the simple and sober portrait of a dog such as Erkut Ergun (Turkish Diplomat), or Tilda Tanner (Agnostic). The color palette is restrained as in all of Clarke’s work—orange, tan, olive, and yellow ochre—but the brush textures are so loose and obvious, they must be visible from space!
After the last two books I’ve picked up, watch for my work to loosen up.
I just purchased The Tales of Hans Christian Andersen translated by Naiomi Lewis and illustrated by Joel Stewart.
I used to have an Andersen storybook as a child. I didn’t like it much—the tales I read from it were sad or bittersweet. So I didn’t buy this book for the tales (as is often the case) but for the illustrations.
Stewart’s style is reminicent of Giselle Potter, Lisbeth Zwerger, and some Edward Gorey thrown in as well.
In it, two fairies flit across the pages—Fairy Nice and Fairy Noxious, much like the insects of Cricket magazine. The conceit of the illustrations throughout the book has the settings depicted as if they are all performing a series of plays for the reader. There’s a proscenium arch on the cover complete with red curtain. The illustrator smartly limits the theater imagery to the fronticepiece of each tale. Once the page is turned, the pictures fully enter the story, following the child’s imagination. The inventiveness of the drawings contrast with their simplicity. The content is rich, yet the pencil linework is straightforward and unpretentious.
I find my own illustrations are becoming more complex and detailed. I’ve been agonizing over brushstrokes, worried that if I don’t add more chiaroscuro modeling, the work will look flat and unprofessional. Stewart’s guileless line leaves his whimsy unfiltered, and decisive color application keeps the texture from being overwrought. It’s a philosophy that I would do well to incorporate into my own work.